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Africanized Bees in Austin

Africanized Bees

A&M lab results

Africanized Bees

Note: "Africanized" bees are a "Hybrid" strain of bees developed in Brazil that are also known as "Killer" bees.

Africanized Bees

Africanized Bees

Here are bees that I upset in a chimney just South of Downtown Austin (near Oltorf & I35). There were about 40,000 bees in this colony - a typical full year's hive. The homeowner's son happened to be allergic to bees. When they called me, his face was severely swollen from the sting of just one of the bees. After examining the hive, I decided to go get my digital camera. It was at this point that I noticed that the bees were willing to follow me about two blocks down the road. Fortunately, I had already informed everyone on the block (but 2 blocks was unusual). I decided to capture a few hundred to send in to Texas A&M. They sent the results back within two weeks. Texas A&M confirmed that they were indeed "hybrid" bees - with 10 to 50% Africanized genes.

So, what does it mean when we say that there are "hybridized" or "Africanized" (aka: "Killer") bees in Austin?

It means that some of the colonies in the area contain bees that are basically more defensive than the normal European honey bee.

So why should I be concerned about bees that are more "defensive"? - it's agressiveness that I care about.

Well, the problem comes in what you define as "defensive". The territory that they "defend" is much greater, and the methods they employ to defend it is much greater. European honey bees will seldom bother you unless you bother them. Africanized bees will "defend themselves" much more readily AND attack you in much greater numbers AND follow you much farther. In this case, the original European bees were being gradually taken over by the Africanized strain - thus becomming more "defensive" and dangerous every generation.

So, how do I tell the difference between European and Africanized bees?

You can't be certain without sending them in to Texas A&M. You must put a pint of them in a bottle with rubbing alcohol and ship it to the A&M lab. The results of the batch I sent in two weeks ago (October '02) are posted in the top-center picture above.


Where and How to submit Bee samples to Texas A&M
more Killer Bee information


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